Eminem’s Rap God and more of the wordiest pop songs ever

Eminem in Shop Window

Billboard has announced that Eminem has broken an official world record with his 2013 single Rap God, specifically that of “most words in a hit record”.

Rap God packs 1,560 words into six minutes and three seconds, an average of just under 4.3 words a second. It also includes a 15-second passage in which he manages 97 words, at just under 6.5 words a second, which is really quite fast. Double-time rapping is not uncommon (indeed, US MC Mac Lethal manages treble-time rhyming – though he, crucially, does not have enormous pop hits), but it is Eminem who is going in the record books as the most verbose pop performer of all time. But who else was in the running? We consider some of the contenders.

It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine) – REM

Length: 4min 7sec Word count: 615 Words a second: 2.49

A disappointing showing for the veteran rock chaps, nearly a full thousand shy of Eminem’s effort. Clearly hamstrung by the fact that they keep having to slow down and revisit the chorus, the band do, at least, make the salient point “birthday party cheesecake jellybean boom”, and we don’t think anyone would argue with that. Is jellybean one word or two though? Sadly, it’s all academic.

We Didn’t Start The Fire – Billy Joel

Length: 4min 29sec Word count: 511 Words a second: 1.9

We had high hopes for Billy’s sterling contribution to the unfairly maligned “shopping list record” genre, but he proves to be an even more flimsy performer than REM. He does, however, manage to make references, however small, to more than 100 historically significant people or events, without a booming jellybean in sight.

Subterranean Homesick Blues – Bob Dylan

Length: 2min 20sec Word count: 326 Words a second: 2.33

Hmmm. It seemed as if he was singing more than that. Despite Bob’s poor showing here (it’s only seven more words than 2 Unlimited’s No Limit, for heaven’s sake), you have to acknowledge that he was able to successfully get most of the lyrics across using cue cards in the song’s video, no mean feat. We’d like to see Eminem do that.

Rapper’s Delight – The Sugarhill Gang

Length: 14min 35sec Word count: 2,879 Words a second: 3.29

Hold the phone, what have we here? It’s the rap song that more or less started it all, coming thundering in with over 1,000 more words than Mr Mathers’ piffling effort! Sadly, though, you’ll notice that this figure is pulled from the full-length version, which lasts nearly a quarter of an hour. If we’re talking about the single version, and indeed we must, then the lyric count shrivels to a mere 882 in just under five minutes. Sorry, old skool fans everywhere.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Pete Cashmore, for The Guardian on Monday 8th September 2014 15.33 Europe/London

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